Nov 27, 2007

Overwhelmed by the Oil Spill Pt 2

Meet BoBo, an oil slathered pelican from SF Bay. Upon the advice of a friend, I doused a stuffed animal with vegetable oil and dirt at Saturday's Really Really Free Market. A lot of folks got into this li'l project and I'd like to encourage Critical Massers to join me in decorating their bikes with dead sea goers for Friday's ride. You can't read the card attached, but it says "Cosco Busan: Over 5,000 animals dead". I need to update that sign, as today we're learning that over 20,00 birds alone are expected to have died in this oil spill. We aren't even considering fish and ocean dwellers in that number.

I'm still angry and a bit overwhelmed. I cannot find out what was delivered to us on that ship. What was it carrying away? When I search for this info, I find pictures of oiled birds. I can't handle it. I can't think about the devastation without shrinking into my own thoughts, crying, wondering how the fuck this happened. I saw a headline that read, "Poor Anglers Hit Hardest by Spill". True among humans, but what a short sighted perspective among life.

Speaking with a respected naturalist on Sunday, I confessed my inability to engage directly with the spill. I still haven't been to the bay or ocean since the spill. As I was out of town when this occurred, I don't think I've been to the bay or ocean since October (unusual for me). My friend said that he, too, had "buried [his] head in the sand". The more I think about it, the more angry and frustrated I become. Sadness is daunting for me. That said, I'm grateful to all of the folks trying to remedy this situation, particularly my friends Chris Giorni, Josiah Clarke, and Lew Stringer.

We cannot eliminate human error entirely. We can blame the pilot, captain, and coast guard all day, but accidents will happen. If we seriously want to reduce the chance of accidents, perhaps we should reduce the number of ships traversing our bay. What imports does California really need? Is my estimation of this state's bounty short-sighted, or are we played for fools by profit seeking corporations?
My brain imagines that we got some plastic crap from Asia, summoned by one of our multi-national corporations which moved its operations abroad to reduce its labor costs. And on the way out I imagine that the Cosco Busan was carrying our e-waste to Asia for "disposal" (also known as dumping).
I don't know this at all. But if not this ship, then how many others? This spill reminds us to eat, drink, and live locally. Not out of nationalistic pride, but out of common sense and respect for all life.

Nov 22, 2007

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day is upon us. Tomorrow hordes of shoppers will hit malls and commercial districts to kick off the shopping season, formally known as the holiday season. Count me out, of course. Though some shoppers may see me at Union Square caroling. But you won't see me with a corporate bag in hand.

Creative actions are taking place all over. Here are some events in the Bay Area. Report back here on your own ideas, activities, and celebrations of Buy Nothing Day.

The Really Really Free Market is on Saturday in Dolores Park from 1-5pm. This will be a continuation of Buy Nothing Day.

Nov 20, 2007

Maintaining Oil Spill Awareness (and compacting thievery, again)

My friends and I are taking the following steps to ensure that folks don't just forget about this oil spill. Feel free to join us. Thrift stores are great places to find stuffed animals.

1: Get a stuffed animal ( an ocean goer is best)
2: Rub it with VEG. oil, dirt and any black non-toxic gook
3: Print out on paper:


Laminate label with clear plastic tape. Hang from the neck of the "oiled" animal so that it can be easily seen by the public. Place the "oiled" animal in a prominent place - tie down if need be with wire/stake.

So that it's not out of sight or out of mind.
Thursday is a HIGH tide - watch out for more oil spreading.

And in other compact news, my panniers were stolen off my bike tonight! I got those bad boys off of Freecycle about 18 months ago and used the hell out of them. I'm heartbroken, in part because they were filled with 13 mason jars for tomorrow's canning workshop at dirty dove. I'd just picked those up at Thriftown for $3. One moment without vigilance and my shit is stolen, of course. silly me.

Nov 19, 2007

Canning workshop and RRFM on BND!

Feeling slightly less dismal than yesterday, thanks for the feedback on my anger and frustration.
Wednesday we're having a canning workshop at the Dirty Dove Infoshop. Last week we had an amazing massage workshop where at least 10 folks learned techniques or had them practiced on their bodies. The space really transformed for that workshop, with folks laying on mats in candlelight. This week we'll embrace the food holidays by sharing the practical skill of canning. We plan to focus on greens I think, as they're easy to dumpster. (I should go out soon to look for some, but my kitties are all snuggled up here and siphoning off my motivation!)
Via Freecycle I found about a dozen canning jars in the past couple of weeks. I'm still scouting more, but may not need them. A few folks responded to my Freecycle request with inquiries about the workshop! That was too cool. I hope I get to can some greens and peppers with those folks.

Saturday is the Really Really Free Market in Dolores Park. This kinda synchs up with Buy Nothing Day. So really BND is the Friday after Thanksgiving, but Saturday should be a Buy Nothing Day as well. So we'll be out in Dolores Park from 1-5 sharing skills and the excess we've accumulated in our lives. If you're into BND, you might check to see if a group near you is doing something creative. I'd love to hear about different happenings around BND!!!!!

Nov 18, 2007

overwhelmed by the oil

There's a weak and fucked up piece of me that wants to give up, sell out, and buy in. The urgency of ecological crises is always apparent to me, but disasters like this oil spill in diverse and biologically beautiful SF Bay really dampen my resolve. This spill added a slick coating to bruises and soreness I acquired in another setting. And it seems that when I try to step out of this gloomy, angry mindset, I slip and re-injure myself.
Generally I'd ride the hell out of my bike to get out of a funk. But my legs are sore and I always end up at the water when I ride. I've spent the week trying to heal and be productive, but fear keeps me from the bay and ocean. I can't think about anything w/o getting angry.

I'm so close to selling out. A few months ago I took a steep pay cut to do work that I value more than dollars (restoration). Sustaining this pace is difficult, especially knowing that I could be a stellar capitalist. I've had a successful dog care business for many years. If I focused on that, I'd be an economic "success" by most standards. I'd be doing the "smart thing". I'd make loads of cash and then go shopping.
It must be positive feedback ya know. Person works hard, makes money, buys shit to make him/herself feel good. I could get so wrapped up in things and scenes - like cars and games - that I'd forget the realities of overconsumption. Maybe I could forget that it's impossible for everyone on earth to attain the "success" that is possible for me.
Maybe I could forget that loads of people work harder than I do every day and still don't have enough to eat. I'd have to trick myself into believing that equal work provides equal wealth.
Maybe I could achieve such contentment as to forget that I can afford luxuries because companies like Sony and Kenworth site their exploitive factories in border towns like Mexicali. Not seeing the workers, their neighborhoods, or lifestyles, maybe I could forget that my cheap goods are subsidized by cheap labor.
And if I could convince myself to forget all of this, then surely I could forget that a capitalistic obsession with stuff is threatening our ability to inhabit earth.

That weak and fucked up part of me wants to join the consumerist clusterfuck, wants to usher in rising sea levels and mass extinctions with a grin of ignorance and a bounty of useless information on the lives of rich celebrities. I could abdicate any responsibility for the future of my species and others. Tell myself it's not my problem. Stop trying to engage with zombies and just let them bit me so I, too, can walk unflinchingly toward our future.

Nov 14, 2007

PiratePods and Holiday onset

I did a podcast last month with Tiffany and Cherie of PiratePods. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Halloween ended, foisting the shopping season upon us all. There are many alternatives to mindless gift buying, don't get sucked into it! If you live around the Bay, maybe you and your family can get together to do some oil spill clean up. Family activities are so much better than scented candles. There are 2 trainings for oil spill cleanup this Saturday at the County Fair Building.

Buy Nothing Day is the Friday after Thanksgiving. We should all participate. I encourage you to make it a buy nothing Christmas. Let's reject the plastic crap hauled to us in container ships. Take a breather from consumerism and think about our oiled birds. Donate in the name of a family member to cleanup organizations like WildCare or Baykeeper. This spill is haunting, and as much as we want to blame the pilot or captain or the coast guard, we need to look critically at the economic system that brought that ship into our bay. Real solutions have less to do with double hulled ships than reducing the number of vessels crossing our oceans with bellies full of oil.

Nov 6, 2007

Ipod Woes and Free Workshops

I'm suffering from the stubborn compactor's complex. Well, suffering might be an overstatement. My headphones broke, sort of. I went the first 18 months of the compact with no problems acquiring headphones for my ipod. But now my luck has run out.

I cycle with my headphones because I'm reactionary when it comes to cars. I'm truly a better cyclist with music in my ears because I don't react to drivers. I've had some scary encounters, scary enough to convince me that I'm more likely to survive with headphones. But this is not the point. My crappy, sound distorting earbuds were mangled in my tire about 2 weeks ago. So now I have one, terribly distorted earbud to connect to my 45 minute battery life ipod. Very silly, I know.

The Dirty Dove Infoshop will host several workshops this November on Wednesdays between 4-8pm. We're freely sharing some skills this month, starting with a massage workshop on 11/14. With our lending library shelved, a cabinet of zines stocked, and tea brewing by request, the collective looks forward to these skillshares as a way to acquaint people with the space and learn something useful.

I'm helping with a canning workshop on 11/21, that's the day before Thanksgiving. Everyone will be in food mode! I'm looking out for jars on Freecycle and craigslist. Canning is a tradition in my family, one that I don't want to miss out on just because I'm an urbanite. With our bounty of plums, pears, tomatoes, and apples, I should have been canning all summer.

We're also scheduling a discussion on free culture, which will be led by two students from San Francisco State University. They've been researching free networks, freeganism, and free culture. We're all excited to hear what they have to say.

Some friends and I are working on the ecology workshops for December. I want to invite my friends, Amber Hasselbring and Josiah Clark to talk about the projects that they have going. And in the tradition of free school, I want to share some biology basics relevant to the Bay Area. Associated field trips might include a birding walk or a bike tour of Amber's Mission Greenbelt proposal.